Despite their affirmed popularity, slot machines are actually one of the newer games that are present on the casino floors worldwide. Still, they have an interesting history filled with alterations, additions and transformations of the slots machines as we know them. Every avid slots fan should at least be aware of some of the most monumental moments, explained below in more detail.
The First Slot Machine
The very first slot machine with proof of its creation was the one created by the New York based company, Sittman and Pitt, back in 1891. This game was practically a mechanical version of poker, as it consisted of 5 reels and made use of a regular card deck. In order to get a particular hand, you had to pull a lever connected to a spring which made the reels move and produced a certain combination. House edge existed even then, as the card deck used for this machine lacked two cards – the ten of spades and the jack of hearts in order to lower the chances of a royal flush by 50%.
The Liberty Bell
The only competitor for the title of the first slot machine is the Liberty Bell, a slot machine whose time of creation is solely narrowed down to the period from 1887-1895. Charles Augustus Fey is recognized as its creator, and its design is precisely the reason why it is considered to have been built after Sittman and Pitt’s.
The Liberty Bell had an automated payout mechanism, unlike the first one, while other alterations changed the number of reels from 5 to 3 and exchanged the cards with 5 symbols – diamonds, spades, hearts, horseshoes and a bell. Three aligned bells produced the highest prize, hence its name.
The Slots Ban
Slot machines were banned in 1902, but this didn’t stop establishments from offering a spin on their one-armed bandits. The only difference was that candy and chewing gum was the prize, and different fruits stood as reel symbols.
Developments in Slots Design
Once slots became legal again, their technological development soon ensued. First off, a fully electromechanical machine was invented by the manufacturer Bally, in 1964. The reels moved due to electricity, but the designers decided to keep the lever element. A decade or so later, the first completely digital video slot machine was created by a Las Vegas company Fortune Coin. This version had all the advantages of previous designs, and thus paved the way for the first slot machine that had a second screen for its bonus game.
The second part of the 1990s was marked by the appearance of the Internet, and with it the advent of online casino websites. In order to gain popularity, these platforms had to include slots games among their selection, which is how the first online slots appeared. At first, they looked largely alike the land-based version, but soon developed to include multiple symbols, bonuses and thematic variations, ultimately aimed to serve a large player pool.